I just returned from keynoting a conference on the ROI of Market Research in Chicago. Prior to going, I expected to walk into a minefield of very divergent views on how market insights professionals can show their value. Instead, what I found was a “convergent validity” of the views forwarded by Forrester on how to show and build the value of research and insights.

What this means is that there is a clear future path for market insights. Market insights leaders at companies such as Coca-Cola, Pepperidge Farms, General Mills, Schwab, among others, are already getting on what Forrester is calling the insights value path and are positioning themselves to be able to jump over a high performance bar. What do high-performance market insights organizations know and do?

  • Run market insights like a business. Be accountable to your funders, be focused on being a value-driver (versus a cost center), and show the value you bring to the company.
  • Use ROI to optimize the business. Use ROI to show value-add but also to optimize efforts and insights (which avoids waste and creates a competitive advantage).
  • Focus on relationships as well as formulas. Build perceived value of research (through relationship-building and delivering insights aligned to stakeholder needs) while capturing tangible value through ROI calculations.
  • Focus on the return on insights. Show how you optimize the amount, quality, and value of insights you provide to the company through a focus on high-return research as well as insights optimization.
  • Maximize both short- and long-term ROI. Don’t just invest in short-term gains, but also ensure that you have some longer-term, strategic, and even experimental projects that can provide exponential ROI across your company.
  • Partner, partner, partner. Partner with your clients, with execs, and especially with the finance department to get the support and insights you need to create ROI-aligned research and high value.
  • Push for action. Push to ensure clients can/will act on insights, and do act on insights, since they have no value unless they drive action (and change).

Stan Sthanunathan, VP of marketing strategy and insights at Coca-Cola, set a clear bar against which other insights organizations will be measured with this mandate:

Market insights must provoke and inspire people to take transformational decisions.

So, is this a vision you can buy into? Are we missing any key components to help other market insights professionals get on the insights value path?